Polpette di Maiale
Tender pork sausage meatballs are served with a sweet red pepper–tomato sauce and topped with Sicilian honey and cheese for a dish that meets your sweet and savory needs all at once.
Note: If you don’t want to grind the meat yourself, ask your butcher to grind this ratio to order and add the spices at home. Or, you can use your favorite store-bought ground pork sausage blend.
40 meatballs, about 8 to 10 servings
Red Pepper Sauce:
- One 22-ounce can whole tomatoes
- 1/4 cup sliced red onion
- 1 cup sliced red peppers, seeds removed
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 3/4 pounds pork shoulder
- 1 pound fat back
- 15 bay leaves
- 3/4 teaspoon star anise
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns
- 1 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pink salt/sodium nitrate (leave this out if using storebought sausage)
- 3 cups canola oil
- 1 cup flour
- 4 ounces grated Caciocavallo or Parmesan cheese
- High-quality honey, preferably Sicilian millefiore honey
Make the red pepper sauce: in a large saucepan, sweat the red onions and bell peppers in olive oil over low heat until tender, about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are completely broken down, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Purée the sauce with an immersion blender or food processor, working in batches if necessary, until smooth.
Make the sausage (skip this step if using storebought sausage): dice the pork shoulder and fat back. Grind together the spices in a spice grinder. In a large bowl, mix together the meat, ground spices, kosher salt, and pink salt and chill for 1 hour. Grind the meat through the small grinder of a KitchenAid using the sausage attachment. Mix the sausage thoroughly and roll into small meatballs.
Heat the canola oil in a large pot with high sides to 375°F. Lightly coat the meatballs in flour and fry in the canola oil until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the pepper sauce in a pot that will be large enough to hold all the sausage meatballs.
Drain the meatballs onto a plate lined with paper towels and add them to the pepper sauce. Cook the meatballs in the sauce until cooked through, about 8 minutes.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to a bowl, add additional sauce, and garnish with grated Caciocavallo or Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of honey.